Posted by on Oct 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

One Last Real Indian’s Response to The GAP’s Manifest Destiny Shirt

By  :  Colby Tootoosis

“The GAP, Inc. is an American clothing company founded in 1969.  It has five primary brands: GAP, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Atheta.  It operates approximately 3,100 retail stores worldwide.  It is the largest specialty apparel retailer in the U.S.  Recently, GAP came out with a new men’s clothing line that featured a t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘MANIFEST DESTINY.’  Mark McNairy is the designer of said shirt.  Yes, he knows what ‘MANIFEST DESTINY’ is and recently tweeted, ‘MANIFEST DESTINY: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.’  Manifest Destiny was a belief used by colonists and the federal government to excuse all the cruel, horrific, wrongful acts committed by them against Indigenous Natives, the first and original inhabitants of the Americas.  Manifest Destiny = Genocide. “ (Excerpt from Lastrealindians Tumblr Blog)


Either the GAP slipped on the banana peel of ignorance or idiotically took the Native hipster fashion fad too far when they dished out a plain, lame, black T-shirt entitled, “Manifest Destiny”.   Within hours, we witnessed Indigenous outrage as front line confronters exposed the relation of ‘Manifest Destiny” to the policies that initiated genocide on our Nations.  The fire for justice that exists within the veins of the Indigenous is alive and always primed to do battle.  Last Real Indian’s commends all those who have tweeted, and written to the GAP with forthright validity and certitude.  Finally, after a responsive Twitter and letter campaign towards the GAP, the GAP announced they will no longer sell the t-shirt based on costumer feedback.  However, many people want an apology issued.
So what happens if an apology is issued?  Would the apology do the Indigenous soul justice for the evoking of that distressful chapter in our cosmology?  Canada announced an apology for the genocide in the form of residential schools.  Yet Canada continues to oppress Indigenous nations through forms of policy and the unjust administration of Treaty Rights.   Apologies do not stop the internal racial perceptions nor do apologies open a door for reconciliation – especially if the patterns of racism and abuse continue.  The GAP, however, has announced it would apparently discontinue the t-shirt.  It can be argued that this battle was won, and this fire was put out.  There are many battles to be fought and many fires that need to be put out, some bigger then others.  This issue needed to be addressed and the history of genocide should never be taken lightly.
“Manifest Destiny” was the description furthering the occupation and expansion of the America’s by Europeans.  We have to remember that the success of the expansion of the settler presence was not due to their ingenuity, ability to live off the land, or their character and morality.  Smallpox that won their major battles – along with their cold-hearted systems of detribalization that took advantage of Indigenous compassion, values, and morals.  We have to remember that the objective has always been to assimilate the Indian and domesticate our Nations.  These policies and processes still exist today; however, they are under a subtle, subliminal vial.  A simple t-shirt elicits the trained eye of the defensive Indian to spot these subliminal racist schemes.  We also need to avoid stooping to the limited consciousness of the racist by becoming racist ourselves.  I have been called a racist for simply calling my settler friend’s “settlers”.  The fact is there are people who are Indigenous to this land, and there are settlers on this land.  “Settler” is not a racist term – it is a reality, and not all settlers are racist.  There are some who are educated, aware and are pro-Indigenous.  I was surprised to hear that some of my First Nation friends found it uncomfortable to say the word settler in front of settlers.  It is also apparent that many of our young people are fearful to stand up to racist comments when they unfold in front of their eyes.  We need to be conscious of how we address the issues of racism.  That doesn’t mean having to address racism “kumbaya” style, all polite.  Call it as it is in your own way, the best way you know how.  The outrage that is expressed through us when we address these issues is needed.  We also need to reframe this outrage into courage, so our young people can step outside the prisons of their comfort zones and address the injustices that they witness.  Last Real Indians encourages our young people to stand up in the truth of the consciousness of who they are and speak up!  Silent in the midst of ignorance and corruption can no longer be an option.  Our young people have the potential to shake the Earth.  Our young women are the buffalo spines of our nation and need to speak up and address the patterns and cycles that are restraining the evolution of our Nations.  We also cannot allow these battles to distract us from the vital issues that hinder our nations.  Many of these issues lay in the social challenges we ourselves need to overcome.  When we empower our young people to live consciously in the identity of who they are in the core of their being relative to the land they walk on – our presence in the future of this land will be the foundation of truth.  The settler American’s called their presence “Manifest Destiny”.  The Indigenous through actions of survival and liberation responded with “we’ll decide”!